Let’s Run

A lot of people ask, “does my running form matter?”. The answer is YES. And while there is not one “right” way to run, there are certain elements of your form that you should be aware of to help you get the most out of your run. Making these small adjustments to your form may also help you begin to see an increase in your breathing ability, endurance and speed during your runs.

*Head – keep your head and neck in a neutral position to decrease the strain on your neck

*Shoulders and Arms

    -keep your shoulders relaxed

    -keep your arms slightly bent at the elbow

    -don’t let your hands come up above your chest

    -avoid crossing your arms in front of you (this will help with your breathing and avoid cramps!)

*Trunk- while you run you should keep a slight forward trunk lean to help propel your body forward

    – forward lean does NOT equal hunching, hunching over should always be avoided to help optimize breathing

*Knees- be sure to drive your knees up and forward to help propel you forward and also help avoid tripping

*Feet and Ankles- try to land on your midfoot/forefoot when running rather than your heels (this will help keep you moving forward and avoid increase force/stress going up your leg)

If you or someone you know is interested in a running assessment please do not hesitate to contact us and one of our PTs would be happy to help you!

Written by: Dr. Taylor Ryan, staff physical therapist at HPT

Think Before you Lift

No matter what your occupation is, it is very likely that you pick things up (and put them down) from lower surfaces at least once throughout the day (both in and out of work). Whether it be packages, weights, children, groceries, something you dropped on the floor, etc., knowing how to properly lift is extremely important for your physical health.

When lifting, it is important to remember the 5 L’s:

1. Load- know your limits! If an object is too heavy, do not be afraid to ask for help.

2. Lever- for heavier objects, it is important to decrease the lever arm (your arm length usually). Lifting something closer to your body will decrease the  strain on your back and also make it easier to lift.

3. Lordosis- always do your best to maintain a neutral spine when lifting and avoid bending over (even if it is for something of little weight). It is also important to remember to minimize the amount of twisting you do when lifting something. Rather than twisting to put a box/groceries/etc on a table, try doing a small pivot.

4. Lungs- believe it or not, breathing is important in a heavy lift. A good rule of thumb is to take a deep inhale when preparing for the lift and then exhale during the lift. The biggest thing to remember is to NOT hold your breath when lifting something heavy.

5. Legs- you’ve probably heard it loads of times, but here it is again – lift with your legs NOT your back. Your legs can produce more power during a heavy lift than your back. Using your legs can also help you maintain a neutral spine.

So whether you are at the gym lifting weights, picking up your phone, lifting up groceries, or picking up your young one, remember these tips and your back will be sure to thank you.

Written by: Dr. Taylor Ryan, staff physical therapist at HPT

Rules of Stretching

As you exercise and play sports, do you take time to stretch? As most people are short on time, the first thing to get cut from a workout is the stretching component. As physical therapists, we recommend that you don’t cut the stretching out as this can lead to an injury. Check out the stretching rules below to learn what you should focus on when you stretch:

  1. Perform a dynamic stretch (no holds) prior to your workout that mimics the sport or exercise you are about to participate in.
  2. Perform a dynamic stretch for a minimum of 5 minutes prior to your workout.
  3. After your work out, perform static stretches (hold stretches).
  4. Perform static stretches in all the major muscles groups you just used during your workout.
  5. Hold static stretches for 15-60 seconds for 2 repetitions each.

In summary, you can complete dynamic and static stretching for your workout in approximately 10 minutes. That 10 minutes is crucial to not skip as this could save you from an injury that could last weeks or months.

Written by Dr. Amanda Macht- owner of Harbor Physical Therapy

3 Easy Stretches for Heel Pain

If you suffer from heel pain, it may be caused by a condition called plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that runs along the sole of the foot from your heel to your toes. Repeated stress to the foot can cause inflammation to that band and cause sharp pain in your heel. This pain may feel worse first thing in the morning or when you are on your feet for long periods of time.

One part of treatment for plantar fasciitis includes stretching the tissue and muscles in the foot and calf to decrease tension around the heel. When performing these stretches, try to hold them for 30 seconds each, repeat 3 times, and perform them 2-3 times a day.

Seated Stretch – while sitting with your foot crossed over your other leg, pull your foot and toes back towards you.

Runner’s Stretch – while standing in front of a wall, place the foot that hurts back behind you and push your heel towards the ground.

Stair Stretch – while standing on the edge of a step, drop your heels down until a stretch is felt in the calves.

If you would like to learn more about how to get rid of your heel pain, contact Harbor Physical Therapy

How to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

As more of us work from home, we are at a higher risk of developing overuse injuries including carpal tunnel syndrome. This is a common condition that is associated with pain, numbness, and tingling in the wrist and hand. This occurs when the median nerve, one of the major nerves that travels through the forearm and hand, becomes compressed as it travels through the carpal tunnel in the wrist. Common causes of this compression and irritation to the nerve include repetitive hand and finger use when typing and writing as well as poor wrist and hand positioning while performing these activities. Here are some suggestions to help prevent and treat this condition:

  1. Take breaks – If you find yourself doing a lot of typing throughout the day, make sure that you are taking a 10 minute break from typing every hour at the minimum.
  2. Keep your wrists neutral – Avoid excessive bending of the wrists in either direction to avoid increased compression on the nerve. As you type, try to keep your wrists in a neutral or slightly extended position
  3. Focus on posture – The positioning of the rest of your body, including your head, neck, and shoulders can contribute to symptoms all the way into the hands. As you sit at your desk, make sure that you maintain good posture by keeping your head upright, shoulders back, and avoiding a slouched posture.
  4. Stretch – Tightness in the muscles of the wrist and forearm can contribute to your symptoms. As you are taking a break every hour, stretch the muscles by pulling your hand and fingers back towards you and holding for 30 seconds at a time, as seen in the picture below.

 

How does Movement Help Injuries Heal? I’ve got a bone to pick.

If you’ve ever been to a physical therapist, you know that exercise is usually prescribed as the primary treatment for a number of injuries and conditions. Clearly exercise has numerous benefits, but it can sometimes seem counterintuitive to place resistance or load through an injured area — doesn’t it need time to rest and heal? The short answer to that question is generally yes, especially immediately following the injury; however, the appropriate amount of movement and exercise can actually promote healing and recovery.

My goal is to help you understand just how exercise helps restore normal functioning of injured body tissues. This article is part of a series that will discuss how various types of tissue depend on movement to recover. Today’s subject is bone.

In the case of fracture, bone is the exception to the rule of “get it moving ASAP.” Allowing a bone to fully heal is vital to maintaining its structural integrity throughout the rest of your life. However, once it is healed and in cases where the bone has begun to weaken such as osteoporosis or osteopenia, weight-bearing exercise is vital to maximizing its strength and reducing the risk of re-injury.

Exercise helps strengthen bone by increasing its density. Density is typically measured by something called a DEXA scan, which is used to diagnose osteoporosis/osteopenia. Over time, the density as measured by these scans is maintained or increased in response to exercise. However, these increases are site-specific, meaning that exercises involving your lower body will only increase the density of the bones in your lower body (and vice versa with your upper body). Of particular note is that in postmenopausal women — the demographic most affected by osteoporosis — exercise is shown to mitigate losses in bone mineral density. So, after speaking to your physician or physical therapist about which exercises are best for your condition, it’s time to get moving!

Now let’s get specific about the best types of exercise. Exercise that is in an upright position against gravity is considered most effective for improving bone health. Such exercises include walking, jumping, and resistance training with weights or bands. Bone thickens in response to these types of exercise because gravity and the physical pull of the muscle tendons on our bones elicits an adaptive response. Exercises such as swimming, while still very healthy for us, aren’t quite as effective for improving bone density.

Written by: Dr. Scott Newberry

What is a Meniscus Tear?

A meniscus tear is a common injury that occurs to the cartilage in the knee. Each knee contains 2 menisci that help to absorb shock in the knee and stabilize the joint. An injury to these structures can occur as a result of a quick movement such as forcefully twisting the knee while putting weight through it. This can cause pain, swelling, stiffness, and difficulty extending the knee fully.

If the tear is severe enough, surgery may be necessary. However, research studies have shown that improvements in pain and function are similar whether you have surgery or physical therapy.  With that being said, going through a course of physical therapy first is the best course of action in the majority of cases and will help to determine if further action such as a surgery is necessary if you do not fully recover from the injury.

If you have suffered from a meniscus tear, a physical therapist will help you to decrease your pain, restore the movement in your knee, and work on strengthening and stabilizing your knee joint. The goal of physical therapy is to allow you to return to all of the activities that you enjoyed previously while simultaneously decreasing the risk of an injury occurring again.

Written by: Dr. David Reymann
Staff Physical Therapist at Harbor Physical Therapy

The Importance of Prehab

Prehab, short for pre-habilitation, is a type of intervention intended to prevent injury or to prepare one for surgery in order to optimize post-surgical outcomes. In the world of physical therapy and athletics, this can include incorporating strength and stability exercises into athletes’ training programs to prevent injuries when they are on the field.

Prehab can also be helpful for those requiring any type of orthopedic surgery such as a joint replacement or ligament reconstruction. By building up strength and general fitness prior to surgery, the risk of complications post-operatively decreases and the functional recovery tends to be quicker. During prehab, patients are educated on what to expect after surgery which can help them feel more prepared for any adjustments they may have to make including any activity modifications.

Prehab is covered by all health insurances.  This is due to health insurances also seeing the benefits of prehab as it cuts down on sport injuries and duration of physical therapy required after a surgery.  If you are interested in learning more about how you could benefit from prehab, feel free to email Harbor Physical Therapy at info@machtmedicalgroup.com to learn more.

Written by,
Dr. David Reymann

 

Tips to Decrease Your Fall Risk at Home

As everyone is stuck inside more often these days, it is important to take a look at your home environment to decrease your risk of having a fall. Falls in the elderly population can lead to serious injury and should be avoided at all cost. Multiple factors place a person at an increased risk for falls. These factors include advanced age, poor vision, muscle weakness, poor balance, fear of falling, and home and environmental hazards. There are many steps that you can take to prevent falls. Here are just a few:

  1. Keep rooms in your home free of clutter to prevent tripping.
  2. Walk in shoes that have a good grip. Avoid wearing socks to decrease your risk of slipping.
  3. Keep your home well-lit to avoid tripping on objects that are hard to see.
  4. Make sure that all rugs in the home, as well as the bathtub and shower floor are nonslip.
  5. Stay active to improve strength, balance, and flexibility.

If you have a history of falls, are fearful of falling, or feel that you have problems with walking, balance, or decreased strength, a telehealth appointment with one of our physical therapists may be right for you. This will allow the therapist to identify possible hazards in your home in addition to providing you with appropriate strength and balance exercises.

Written by Dr. David Reymann

How to Prevent Back Pain with Household Chores

If a household chore is not done with proper biomechanics, you are more likely to strain you back muscles resulting in pain.  Lots of household chores are repetitive so it is a good rule of thumb to use both the right and left side of your body equally to avoid an overuse injury.  Check out the tips below highlighting some specific household chores and body positioning that will decrease strain on your back muscles.

  1. Washing dishes– to decrease back strain at the sink, open the base cabinet and put your foot up on the ledge to become closer to the sink.
  2. Vacuuming– Walk with the vacuum or lunge forward onto one foot keeping your back straight, rather than bending forward with each push of the vacuum.
  3. Making the bed– Put one knee down on the bed when fastening a sheet to the corner of the mattress or squat to fasten it.
  4. Grooming– Put one hand down on the counter in the bathroom while using the other to brush your teeth or shave. Also, you can put a foot up onto the ledge of the base cabinet as in the kitchen.